Today we travel to West Los Angeles to chat with Debra Eckerling about how telling stories, journalism in college, freelance writing, an Instant Pot, Aikido, and cardio dance come together to form the screen play of Debra’s life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a goal coach and project catalyst. I help people figure out what they want and how to get it, whether they are at a crossroads and need direction or they are seeking a plan and guidance for a specific project. I do coaching, workshops, and have an online and live support group for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, called Write On Online. There’s a Facebook page and group.
I live in West Los Angeles, and am originally from the Midwest (Chicago suburbs). I’ve written for national, local, trade, and online publications; have worked in publishing, education, financial services, social media, and technology; and speak on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.
In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have?
I write non-fiction in the areas of writing/business/self-help with some tech and social media mixed in.
My first two books – Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of all Ages and Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog – were self-published and only released as ebooks.
My third – Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals – was released by Mango Publishing on January 14, 2020, and is available in ebook and paperback formats.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
Ever since I learned to write as a kid, I loved to write. Growing up, I mostly wrote fiction. I loved telling stories. I studied journalism in college, so I could have a solid writing background – it amazes me how much publishing has changed since the 1990s, btw.
Then, in my 20s I got my first freelance writing break a week after I wrote my first screenplay, which I did for fun. Freelance writing came easy to me. I still loved telling stories, but now I was telling real-people stories, rather than fiction. And, somewhere along the line, I started incorporating my knowledge and experience in my words, as well.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I was never into cooking until I got an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) about three years ago. Sure, I could make the basics, and I love food, but I was never one of those people who thought cooking was meditative and fun. Now, I love my Instant Pot – and also my air fryer – and I will tell anyone who will listen how much I enjoy putting in ingredients and watching them turn into meals. I share recipes and have conversations about food prep. It still surprises me when I find myself discussing cooking or offering advice.
I studied Aikido for nine years. It’s the passive martial art you see on TV, where someone attacks you, you step out of the way, and the attacker falls down … their own power is their downfall. Aikido teaches things like self-awareness, being centered, and creating a mind frame to avoid conflict. Someone attacks you, even verbally, there are ways to use distraction or even kindness to diffuse the situation before resorting to combat, but only if necessary.
I went through a quiet phase as a child. No one believes that when they meet me, since I am very outgoing.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
I started a writing-focused goal-setting group when I was the event coordinator for Barnes & Noble in Illinois, and re-launched the group in Los Angeles a few years after I moved here. Over time, Write On has transitioned from a live group to online. Now, it’s a hybrid of online – I have a Facebook page and group for goal-setting, accountability, and community – and live hangouts.
Several years ago, a member asked me to help him one-on-one, so I began doing personal coaching, speaking and leading workshops. I worked in communication and project management, so I was able to use all of my skills to help people plan their projects, troubleshoot, and complete them.
Then, in 2018 I re-branded my business as the D*E*B METHOD®. My goal-setting and productivity process worked perfectly with my new acronym. DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path.
The biggest reason people do not reach their goals is they don’t take the time to figure out what it is they really want and how to make it happen. DEB, which is Part One of Your Goal Guide, walks readers through my process. Part Two is all about setting yourself up for success.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
My current fitness of choice is cardio dance. I take an amazing World of Dance UJAM class every week, and it is definitely my happy place. Dance is not only healthy and fun, it’s the best stress-reliever. It energizes me and keeps me going.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I have been keeping a journal for years. It was mandatory for a creative writing class in high school, and it literally changed my life. I discovered the power of getting your thoughts on paper; it keeps you healthier, physically and mentally, and also helps with problem-solving, as well as capturing what’s going on in your life, good and bad.
As an adult, I’ve used journaling more to track my activities, keep notes on my projects, and catalogue ideas. Journaling and brainstorming are significant elements in the process I teach and are a huge part of Your Goal Guide.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I had this question as a college entrance essay for a creative writing program, and it stuck with me. I said I would want to be a cartoon version of myself, because I believe everyone should know how it feels to turn their head 360 degrees. And, yes, I got into that school, but opted to pursue a degree in journalism instead.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I believe everything happens for a reason and in a certain order.
About two years ago, when my primary freelancing client was making changes, I took it as a sign that it was time to focus on my goal-coaching. I re-branded myself – I took the goal-setting and productivity techniques I developed over the years and put them into a simplified process, called The D*E*B Method. Shortly thereafter, I met an agent (he found me), and he sold my book.
Ever since I decided to fully embrace what I believe I was meant to do, things have fallen into place.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I did competitive public speaking in high school and college. When you master communication, you can interact with anyone, present anything, and get your ideas across.
Any parting thoughts?
I love to meet new people … and part of achieving goals is activating your network, and finding the information and resources you need to make your dreams a reality.
And please connect with me. You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook – for Write On Online and The D*E*B Method, Instagram, and Twitter. I lead the #GoalChat Twitter Chat on Sundays at 7pm PT.
It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA, Debra. Here’s wishing you many great meals in your Instant Pot and much fun dancing! –Camilla
About the book:
One of the biggest reasons goals fail is that people often don’t put enough thought into what they really want before diving in. Your Goal Guide by Debra Eckerling starts with that first, crucial step: figuring out your goals and putting a plan in place. Eckerling presents readers with her own tested and proven method: the D*E*B METHOD®. DEB is a brainstorming and task-based system and stands for: Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. It’s a roadmap for setting and achieving goals. Goals can be intimidating because of the pressure people often put on themselves to succeed. However, Eckerling believes that setting goals should be easy—you just need the right tools to tackle them. Through a combination of writing exercises and systems, Eckerling provides readers with a process for making and setting goals that is stress-free, easy-to-manage, and even fun.
Where to buy the books:
You can find Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. If they don’t have it, just ask them to order it for you.
Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals from Mango Publishing. A professional writer, communications specialist, and project catalyst, she works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. After years of working, adapting, and polishing her goal-setting and productivity techniques, she put them into a simplified process, called the D*E*B METHOD®. DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. Debra is also the founder of Write On Online, a live and online community for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat.
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